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Breast Cancer Treatments in the News

New Treatments Could Shrink Breast Cancer in Just 11 Days

For patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, a new combination therapy with two drugs could shrink or even eliminate their tumors in just 11 days.

About 10% of breast cancers are HER2-positive, which is a subtype of breast cancer that is aggressive and resistant to the treatment currently available.  The new drug combination uses trastuzumab (Herceptin), a drug that targets the HER2 protein on cancer cells, and lapatinib that targets the HER2 protein inside the cancer cells. This drug combination forms a one-two punch to the cancer cells: the first drug targets the HER2 protein on the surface of cancer cells, and the second one penetrates the cells to attack from within.

The results of this new combination approach are excellent. Among the 66 women with HER2-positive breast cancer between 1 and 3 cm in size and received the combination of the two drugs, 11 percent of them saw their tumours disappear entirely in just 11 days.

More research will need to be done on the long-term benefits of the treatment before this new drug combination could be prescribed to patients. But, this exciting result really gives the breast cancer patients the hope that more personalized treatment will be available to them in the near future.

The result of this clinical study also demonstrated the power and importance of the genetic testing: with the capability of identifying the genetic abnormalities at the molecular level by doctors, targeted therapy and precision medicine will change the way of cancer treatment and bring significant benefits to cancer patients.

Michael Wang, MD, PhD, Chief Science Officer, NFCR